Rajan Balasundaram, Leader Strategist and Innovator; VP Solutions at Emarsys, tells us about the challenges facing retail and opportunities offered by artificial intelligence (AI)
What does Emarsys do and what is its USP?
Emarsys is a global B2C marketing cloud company. It helps retailers to work at scale, personalising interactions with individual consumers in a seamless manner across channels.
What challenges are marketers facing in retail today?
Retail channels are merging and consumers are demanding a seamless experience. Mobile has given them the power in many ways, including the ability to check online offers while standing in store.
Disparate teams within the retail organisation are trying to solve similar challenges but in different ways, resulting in an experience for consumers that may not be joined up. Retailers, therefore, need one database, which can bring all of these teams together – a single source of the truth providing one place in which all of their data can be brought together, analysed and acted upon.
How big an opportunity is AI for retailers?
The amount of data held about customers is enormous. Analysing that data, segmenting it and drawing insight from it is better suited to a machine than to humans. Artificial intelligence (AI) can utilise machine learning and pattern recognition to work out the best way to interact with individual customers based on past behaviour or similarity to other customers.
AI will have profound effects on the retail industry. It can provide a unified personalised experience with the consumer, which is agnostic of channel. This will make the in-store experience the same as the web experience, for instance.
AI can solve the problem of personalising the experience for the end consumer. It can predict what a customer will do, as well as highlighting to someone in the business what message will produce the best outcome. AI can work out from business goals which promotions, offers and product selection will perform best when offered to individual consumers. It will factor in margins and discount levels based on rules around short-term revenue and long-term profit goals.
It gives the right discount levels to the right customers. Where one consumer can be swayed by a 20% discount, another is more likely to convert when offered free delivery, for example. AI can predict whether product A or product B should be included in a certain communication. This unified personalised experience for customers is agnostic of channels so each offer can be presented through the best channel whether that’s a mobile offer, email, web or via ‘clientelling’ in store.
As with all forms of personalisation, AI-automated offers need to be presented in a way that is seamless to the consumer and don’t make them feel like they are being stalked.
How is Emarsys helping retailers with these challenges?
Emarsys has been helping retailers with its AI offering for the past 12 months with some customers seeing an uplift in revenue of up to 28%. Many retailers started testing AI with sample segments of 10% of their consumer database, gradually increasing the segment size to 50% and upwards as the technology proved itself. AI in retail is still in its infancy but it won’t be long before marketers turn on the full capabilities. Implementations are expected to skyrocket in 2019.
Emarsys in brief
Date launched: 2000.
Global reach: 17 global office locations, serving more than 2,000 clients in 140 countries.
Customers: eBay, Toys ‘ ’ Us, Nike, Canon, Volvo, American Express and L’Oréal.
Employees: more than 700.
Contact: for further information contact Emarsys via Twitter at twitter.com/emarsys, Facebook www.facebook.com/emarsys or Linkedin linkedin.com/company/ emarsys www.emarsys.com